FRIEND REQUEST – thousands turn to social media during cancer

  • More than 40,000 people[i] with cancer in Wales are turning to social media during cancer treatment and recovery, according to a new study.


  • New research is released ahead of World Cancer Day (February 4th), when Macmillan is highlighting the impact that little acts of kindness can have on those living with cancer



New research released by Macmillan Wales shows that vast numbers of people are using social media while going through cancer treatment.

The charity’s latest research found that almost a third of people with cancer in Wales are now using outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as traditional methods such as speaking to friends, family or health professionals.

Despite reports claiming that social media has had a negative impact on self-esteem, it appears that for those living with cancer in the UK, speaking to people via social media platforms can help give them a boost.  One in five (20 %) people who used social media say that one or more digital platforms have improved their self-esteem [ii].

These findings follow on from research by Macmillan which showed that 1 in 6 (15%) people in the UK, who have or have had cancer, would rather talk to friends and family about health issues online or on social media than in person [iii].

Gale Kidman, who was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in September 2012, said:

“There is no doubt that cancer can be an isolating illness, and on the days when you are too ill to see anyone and just getting out of bed is a struggle, you really do feel the loneliness.  It’s on days like these that social media can help.

“While I had great support from friends and family, I also received a huge amount of comfort by being active on Macmillan’s Online Community.  

“It was often online, within the wider social network of the Macmillan community, that I found the reassurance and comfort I needed from others who were going through the same experience as me.

“Having been a bit of a control freak before cancer, it was hard for me to ask for help. It was such a relief when help and advice was offered, and I slowly learnt to accept it.

“Often it is the small acts of kindness that make the biggest difference.  A kind and supportive word on social media, a visit, or a meal or cup of tea being made for you – it all helps people to get through the really difficult times.”

Richard Pugh, Head of Services for Macmillan Wales said: “For many people with cancer, dealing with their diagnosis and treatment is a huge challenge.

“What our research shows is that for many people, social media and online platforms like Macmillan’s online community are playing an increasingly important role.

“Ahead of World Cancer Day, it shows that for many, life with cancer is still living and being able to share their cancer journey or speak to others who are going through something similar can offer a much-needed system of support.”

For information and support, go to www.macmillan.org.uk/worldcancerday



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